Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The recession: Stop carping. Carpe Diem!

So there's a recession. The dreaded beast has officially arrived and all the businesses in the world are going to collapse. We'll all end up beggars and that's just the way life is.

No! This recession is going to be the making of many small businesses if they are prepared to swim against the current. I was reading Vincent Laforet's excellent blog about "The Perfect Storm" where he examines the impact of the economic crisis on photographers. He warns us that (particularly in America) business is starting to dry up and that many publications are likely to go to the wall. Budgets have been so severely cut that some publishers have NO advertising booked for 2009. That's the cold that America has and we're going to catch it.

But where some see gloom and doom, I see opportunity. I think this "perfect storm" will allow the savvy amongst smaller businesses to come out of the shadows and into the light. Now is the time for compact, agile businesses to go for the opportunities that were once the exclusive reserve of the big ticket players.

Be a piranha

If you've ever seen piranhas feeding, you'll notice how many of them make short work of the body they are feeding on, not by taking large bites, but by taking little chunks. And that's what small businesses need to do - take lots of little bites. While times are tough, remain a piranha, don't try to become a shark. Don't worry too much about expanding your business, because you'll also grow your overheads. If you're doing well, perhaps tweak your pricing upwards so you can save more money - you don't want to become a lumbering behemoth right now, but being cash rich would put you in a much more powerful position.

Twice as much marketing for half the budget

Increase your marketing activity if you want to keep busy or sell more product. You're a small business - a sassy street kid. Be street smart and hustle. Its time for clever, low cost marketing initiatives. Again, small businesses are far better positioned than the giants to seek out new opportunities and if you're smart, you can do it for almost free. But remember, you are growing your brand so make sure that whatever you do, you still reflect the values that underpin your brand, your corporate image. Low cost marketing should never be cheap and nasty - use an expert!

Lean on the desperate.

That sounds brutal. It is. But "the desperate" in the world of marketing are the media. Their revenues are falling dramatically. If you want to buy advertising space or time, now's your opportunity. Negotiate - you're in a powerful position.

Use a sniper's rifle.

Be clever with your targeting. I think that during a recession its better to go with more tightly targeted marketing rather than a scatter gun approach. Pick off prospects one-by-one and work harder to convert them.

Give them some love

The customers you won during the recession will stay loyal when its over, but only if you build on their loyalty. Keep on showing them some love. Keep in touch with them. Charm them. Keep it fresh.

None of the above are especially insightful or brilliant ideas. They are all dead simple. There are so many ways - most of them are common sense - for your business to flourish right now. Carpe Diem!

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